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Gilbert Baker’s Gift of Pride — The Rainbow Flag

The rainbow flag has become the most widely recognized symbol of the LGBTQ+ Community around the world.  Prior to 1978, there had been no unifying symbol for the ever growing ever more visible LGBT Community.  San Francisco city supervisor, Harvey Milk and Gay rights activist, Cleve Jones, approached Gilbert Baker about creating a potential symbol.

Gilbert Baker, born June 2, 1951, was an honorably discharged army veteran, who became an activist and vexillographer designing flags and banners for various causes around the world including anti-Vietnam protests.

“What I liked about the rainbow
is that it fits all of us.
It’s all the colors.
It represents all the genders.
It represents all the races.
It’s the rainbow of humanity.

– Gilbert Baker

 

The hand-dyed Pride Flag first raised over United Nations Plaza on June 25, 1978, looked much different with its eight stripes each with their own symbolic meaning and a field of stars.   Met with overwhelming enthusiasm and demand for the new flag, mass production necessitated simplification to a six-stripe design.  The fuchsia and teal stripes were removed from the design, because at that time material in those colors was too cost prohibitive to mass produce in a flag.  Thus the iconic six stripe flag was born.

 

 

In 2016 President Obama invited him to The White House Pride Month reception at which Baker presented him with a hand dyed cotton pride flag.  Gilbert Baker passed away unexpectedly on March 31, 2017.  Our rainbow flag was, is, and always will be his gift to the Community he loved and fought for tirelessly.  He never copyrighted, trademarked, or earned any royalties from his most visible creation.

 

Forty-six years after it was first raised, the rainbow flag, symbol of the largest civil rights movement in history, has come under attack over the past few years.  Cities and states across America have passed laws banning its flying over public places and in schools.  They argue if Confederate and NAZI flags are forbidden from being flown, then the Pride Flag a group they find aberrant should be banned as well.  Sadly it’s working and is part of their ever growing effort to minimize and erase the LGBTQ+ Community wherever possible.

Related post: “From SoCal to NY, Cities Across the Country Are Banning the Rainbow Flag”

In 2022, The Gilbert Baker Foundation  and the ACLU  joined forces to fight back against the rising tide of Pride Flag bans and launched “Save The Rainbow Flag”  

Save The Rainbow Flag is a grassroots community-based activism marshalling the expertise of both organizations into a downloadable toolkit with a “how to” statements, letters to elected officials, and artwork.

From the website:

“Save the Rainbow Flag” provides First Amendment and LGBTQ+ rights supporters with tools to challenge this alarming censorship trend. This website provides concerned citizens will fact sheets and tactics for how to challenge these homophobic efforts on the local level, through community hearings, media interviews, petitioning, and by mobilizing neighbors…

The centerpiece of the Save the Rainbow Flag tool kit is an Open Letter from the American Civil Liberties Union, citing legal precedents on why banning the Rainbow Flag goes against existing laws. The Save the Rainbow Flag tool kit includes a draft letter to local officials, sample letter to the editor, and other information to support community advocates fighting flag bans locally.”

Download the Save The Rainbow Flag Toolkit HERE 

Conservative and religious groups spouting lies, bigotry, and homophobia are tearing it down and want to tear our flag from us.  If a foreign government was tearing down the American flag, we’d fight back with a furor. Right now our government is tearing down the Pride Flag and trampling on our Freedom of Speech, so why aren’t we fighting back just as hard?

“Extending the legacy of Gilbert Baker, the creator of the LGBTQ Rainbow Flag. Activist, artist and educator.”

GilbertBaker.com 

#SaveTheRainbowFlag

 

Read our previous Pride Month 2024 posts:

“Proud Out Loud! – PRIDE 2024”

 

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